Anyone wandering past a Black Country pub surrounded by skinheads could have been forgiven for thinking they had gone back in time.
But the scenes in West Bromwich were all for the new BBC drama This Town by Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight OBE.
It focuses on an extended family of four young people as they are drawn into the exploding Two Tone and ska music scene of the 1970s and 1980s. As filming continued yesterday, people flocked to the Coach and Horses pub on Kesteven Road, to take part after an appeal for skinheads was put out by filmmakers.
West Bromwich resident Alex Angell, who is a supporting actor playing a skinhead, said: “It’s been a lot of fun filming the scenes.
“It’s amazing really being so close to home too, I only live around the corner. The portrayal of the skinheads in this series is great, the majority of us are in the culture already so we are wearing clothes that we bought from home.”
The actors, who are mostly local to the area, donned authentic period clothing to portray the music based sub-cultures of the era, including some vintage articles from their own wardrobe.
One Ska-supporting actress said: “I’m actually wearing some of my mom’s old clothes from when she much younger.
“I was already in with the culture anyway so I had the shoes and the hair, but the clothes are really special.” Actors have also praised the series for having a real representation of the music sub-cultures, with skinhead actors complimenting the fair portrayal in the series.
Burntwood resident Olly Furnival, 21, who also plays a skinhead, added: “Honestly this is about as real as it gets, most people know skinhead culture from This Is England and American History X, but this is so real.
“This seems like it is going to be a good representation of the culture, a lot of people get the wrong idea of skinheads because of American History X and This Is England, they think we are all racist and have ties with National Front.
“But skinheads really just love the music and scene, they weren’t all racist and I hope this educates people and shows that skinheads might look mean but we aren’t all that bad.”
The filming has gathered a lot of attention with residents, with people sitting on their doorsteps to watch the scenes and one man even booking a week off work to watch the show.
Mark Whitehouse, 57, of West Bromwich, said: “I actually booked some time from work to see this, it’s one of those things that eventually makes history. It’s not every day that you see this sort of thing around here. In my youth I was really big into the rude boy and Ska cultures and this, this is a real representation of the times – it’s honestly shocked me how close it is.
“It’s amazing how authentic everything looks, you can see that they have put some real thought into the outfits. I actually still have some of the clothes that these people are wearing.”
The clashing of cultures comes after a casting call was issued last month to find “skinheads and people with shaved heads” in and around the West Bromwich area.
The series has been described as both a “high octane thriller” and a “family saga” that opens up in 1981 at a moment of social tension and unrest. A release date for the series is yet to be confirmed.
--- Article By Daniel Walton
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